SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 04: Larry Grant #54 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after a play during their game against the St. Louis Rams at Candlestick Park on December 4, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Let's kick off this morning with some solid discussion: there's been a lot said about how good inside linebacker Larry Grant was in relief of Patrick Willis in 2011. Grant looked like he belonged in the lineup, and if not for the fact that the 49ers already boast the top two inside linebackers in the league, he'd probably be a starter already.
If he were forced to start right now, would he maintain that kind of consistency over 16 games? No, probably not, as he did have some bad moments here and there where he just got ahead of himself. That happens when you're a backup and you're trying to make a name for yourself. Grant did just that, and though he is a free agent this offseason, it's of the restricted variety and he'll be back with the 49ers for at least another season.
A big part of me really wanted to get him signed to a multi-year deal, along with Bowman. How great would it be to have Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, and Larry Grant all locked up for multiple years? Far and away the best inside linebacker position in the NFL today and potentially ever at this point. Then I started to think about a couple factors that could be bad for the situation.
No. 1 is the fact that Grant wants to start. Maybe he signs a deal because the money is too good, then what? Does he lose some of his drive because he's not playing to be a starter? That's something that worries me in a multi-year deal. On top of that, No. 2 ties into that, in that I believe it sets a bad precedent to award backups multi-year deals, especially when you expect a lot out of them.
What I mean by that is you want your backups to want something. They either want to be starters or they want to play well enough to keep earning a paycheck. I'm not saying that Grant would lose his drive due to being set for three-to-four years, I'm just saying I don't like the possibility and the precedent it sets. So there really are two questions here ... Do you want to give Grant a multi-year deal? And do you think it might be a bad idea to give backups multi-year deals in general? Sound off.